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Journey into Nyx Sealed: First Impressions

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited

Hello all! Today I have for you my initial impressions of Theros block sealed. Specifically, this knowledge comes from many faux-prerelease simulators I’ve been doing with a close group of friends, but I believe the format is close enough to regular block sealed for it to still be relevant. In limited of any sort (apart from Cube, I suppose), one must understand that the commons and uncommons are the most important part of any set. They form the core of cards that you will be extracting from, and are what create the backbone to any limited deck you create — draft or sealed. Thus, I will be focusing on the commons and uncommons of Journey into Nyx that have stood out to me the most.

Now before I begin, remember that these are my opinions constructed by my own experiences with these cards. The way that you play may disallow you to share that opinion; basically, your mileage may vary. The following are in no particular order. Onto the cards!

1. Font of Fortunes

Any seasoned MTG player will tell you that card advantage is one of the single, most-important factors in creating a deck. Divination is one of the most basic forms of card advantage limited decks have to choose from. You put 1 card in with some mana and out pop 2 cards! Magnificent! Font of Fortunes is very similar to Divination in that it draws you 2 cards for 1, but with its own up- and down-sides. The downside is simply that it costs an additional mana to do so. If Divination were 4cmc to cast, it would surely see less play. But let’s look at another card: Inspiration. Inspiration can get away with this a little bit by being instant-speed, which makes it much more versatile. I believe that Font of Fortunes takes it one step further, it that it’s a 2-mana sorcery-speed investment into a 2-mana instant-speed Divination. This is especially relevant in sealed due to the slower nature of the metagame. Need a turn 2 play while people are still trying to get their mana out? Just pop down your Font and reap the benefits later on. this card also works well with Constellation.

2. Riptide Chimera

“Sharknado” has been a card that I have been really excited about in limited since I first saw it spoiled. Besides the obvious upsides of it having amazing flavor text and being a flying shark/barracuda, this thing is just a powerhouse waiting to be exploited. The initial comparison can be made to Floodtide Serpent in that it forces you to bounce enchantments back to your hand. Where this can become beneficial is when you have a cantrip aura like Stratus Walk and/or a creature with Heroic on the battlefield. And while this was a bit janky, it still got the job done sometimes. Riptide Chimera removes the jankiness. All you need is a single enchantment (and there are a lot of them now) and you suddenly have a fantastic 3/4 flier for only 3 mana. When you take into account that constellation is now around, as well, you can quickly see why Riptide Chimera’s “downside” can easily become a complete reverse of that.

3. Aerial Formation

This is one of those cards you look at and say “wow, that’s really good.” And the truth is that it’s even better than it looks. How this card was printed at common is beyond me, but I run every single one I get my hands on. Why? It’s a win condition! Archetype of Imagination certainly saw play as a late game finisher in decks with big-beefy creatures who needed evasion. This card does that. At instant-speed. With flexibility. And triggers Heroic. And pumps your targets. Do I need to say more? Aerial Formation has proven to be one of the biggest “blowout” cards of the set so far and I believe it will remain a big part of the limited metagame.

4. Nyx-Fleece Ram

RAM. This cute little 2-drop is far from small and insignificant. At a whopping 5 toughness, this guy is probably even going to see competitively play against aggro. The kicker is the lifegain you get from him. While lifegain may not be a “winning” strategy, less people should discount it completely. Let’s say this guy ends up preventing the attacks of a 2-drop and a 3-drop (we’ll say 5 total power of attacks) and also is alive for 5 turns. That’s 10 life. That’s 10 life for 2 mana on a permanent that is ALSO an enchantment. I’m sure anyone can attest to the fact that the 10 life gained from an Ordeal of Heliod is absolutely relevant, and this guy can get you that while asking a lot less of you. Oh and by the way? Riptide Chimera says “hi.” Just don’t forget to stack your triggers correctly!

5. Oppressive Rays

Oppressive Rays is essentially Pacifism at a cheaper cost that can hit activated abilities…that doesn’t scale well into the late game. That doesn’t sound incredibly useful in a format like sealed at first glance, but that’s why it’s on this list. I have been pleasantly surprised by this pseudo-removal spell. Being able to “turn off” a threat for the first few turns of the game can really benefit you in the long run if you are running a slower deck and need the time to get your mana up to a certain level. In one particular game, my opponent used this on my Underworld Coinsmith, and the results were insane. I just couldn’t afford to use him anymore. And had that game not gone as long as it did, I would have been having some serious trouble by losing that guy, since the Underworld Coinsmith was one of my main win-cons. And that brings me to my next choice…

6. Underworld Coinsmith

This is another card potentially seeing competitive play. historically a “bear with an upside” is a very good limited card, and this guy is certainly no exception. By playing him alongside enchantments, you get ahead on life. All you need is to be ahead on life and some time to use him for him to quickly become the way you win the game. He’s also a great finisher late game when your opponent is down to 5 or less life and the board is stalled. I think a decent comparison can be made to Scholar of Athreos, who has shown to be an amazing card in the right decks. The best part? You can totally play them alongside each other — and to great effect as well since the Scholar gains you life to use with the Coinsmith. This is certainly a card worth playing if you are in the colors.

7. Aspect of Gorgon

Who here likes Keepsake Gorgon? I see a lot of hands out there! Well what if I told you that you could turn any of your creatures into a pseudo-Keepsake Gorgon? Alright, maybe the fact that Aspect of Gorgon doesn’t give a creature the ability to be a removal spell in the late game means it isn’t as impressive, but this card still packs a punch. I think part of the reason why I love this card so much is that the first time it was used against me, my initial reaction was “wow, that creature just became a gorgon!” Then I looked at the name of the card, itself, and had a bit of a face palm moment. Regardless, the flavor of the card is awesome, and the effect it has on a board state is fantastic. Sure, it’s still just an aura and can open you up to a 2-for-1, but if they don’t have a removal spell it mean they just aren’t attacking into your side of the board for many turns.

8. Mogis’s Warhound

Mogis’s Warhound is arguably the best of its cycle, potentially only second to Gnarled Scarhide. The part that I really like about the hound is it’s super-cheap bestow cost. At only 3-mana, this can be a really impactful T3 play. Bestowing something onto an attacking creature essentially is like having haste, but instead of having a 2/2 haste creature, you’ve just turned your other 2/2 into a 4/4 on turn 3. That is always going to be relevant on a board state (unless they have a Nyx-fleece Ram and are laughing in your face). Again, this is a bear with an upside. “But what about the downside?” What downside? I have to attack? I already was going to attack! And much like Gnarled Scarhide, you can bestow this guy on an opponent’s creature late game if you need to remove one of their blockers and seal the winning swing for you. This is probably one of the more powerful red creatures from the set, and pairs really well with Satyr Hoplite.

9. Renowned Weaver

It might surprise you to see this card on my list, here. Don’t be surprised! Renowned Weaver is here because it has been one of the most surprisingly effective green creatures I’ve been playing with from the set. A 1/1 for 1 is not impactful on a board state ever, for the most part. However, this Arachnid homage is far from just that. Being able to put out a chump blocker early on that can be sacrificed to become a Canopy Spider is very nice. Sure, I’d rather just be playing Canopy Spider in a normal set, but this one is also an enchantment, which means it pairs well with Constellation. Plus, bestowing onto a creature with reach is also a nice thing if you need to hold the line while you build up your mana. I certainly recommend playing with Renowned Weaver to see the benefits it often provides.

10. Market Festival

Ahh ramp. The green mage’s true trademark. We all know that a little bit of efficient ramp can put you well-ahead of the unprepared opponent, and Market Festival is more than just a little ramp. Being able to essentially go from turn 4 to turn 7 (or turn 3 to 7 with another mana dork) can be absolutely devastating against a deck that is not overly aggressive. And those sorts of decks are much less prevalent in sealed than they are in draft. On top of all that, Market Festival is absolutely amazing for mana-fixing. As my friend mentioned to me, you can cast it on T4 off of 4 Forests, get another Forest on T5, and still be able to cast 548 of the 559 cards in the entire block the following turn. You’re aware that’s nuts right? You should be aware that that is nuts. Again, this can happen even sooner if you have a Golden Hind or Voyaging Satyr on the field T2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Desecration Plague started seeing serious sideboard play once things get rolling.

Honorable Mention: Dawnbringer Charioteers

Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t be covering rares. But as the white prerelease promo, I felt it was going to be around enough to warrant discussion. Dawnbringer Charioteers can turn the game around the moment they hit the field, and have done so against me many, many times. I actually played a game where I got my opponent to 2 life before they dropped this card, and I actually just couldn’t win afterwards. This card is aggressively costed at 4 cmc considering it has both flying and lifelink AND benefits from spells due to its Heroic ability. All it takes is a single bestow onto this creature and your opponent just cannot race you no matter what they do assuming they don’t have a removal spell ready. And by the time they get one, they may be so far ahead that there’s just no coming back. I definitely see Dawnbringer Charioteers at the pinnacle for the prerelease promos and encourage deck builders to make sure to have an answer in their deck to this card no matter what color they are playing.

There we have it! My choices for some of the most surprisingly effective commons and uncommons from Journey into Nyx. I hope you all enjoyed my opening article and join me next time for some Standard shenanigans. As always, thanks for reading!

~ Christian

Twitter: @Spootyone

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